On Saturday morning my mother and my brother Greg arrived at my house in Greg's VW New Beetle. We transferred their luggage to the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI that was sitting in my driveway so that I could drive them to the Detroit airport. Greg is a longtime VW devotee and VW mechanic who is a great admirer of German technology in all its many forms, but especially German automotive engineering. Anyway, he was about to get into the shotgun position when I said, "Wait, stand outside while I start this thing. You won't believe it's a diesel." And, for sure, he was quite amazed by how quiet the new VW TDI engine is. "Volkswagen engineers really know their diesels," he remarked admiringly.
This is a very tractable and pleasant car on the freeway. Cruising at 80 mph is effortless. The Jetta has very refined manners overall. Once you're underway, the TDI engine settles into a nice purr, and you'd be hard-pressed to know that you have a diesel under the hood. Actually, it's difficult to discern the diesel-ness of this car at any time other than the initial start-up, and even then, the diesel clatter is very subdued. Your passengers will likely never know unless they are paying special attention.
I was reminded, though, of the minor hassles of owning a diesel when I exited US-23 at Washtenaw Avenue and headed east, seeking diesel fuel. I drove through three or four stations and did about a six-mile loop practically back to where I started before I finally found a station that offered it. This is not really a big obstacle, and anyone who owns a diesel quickly learns where to buy fuel in their local area. For long trips, of course, any truck stop will do the trick.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor